BLUE ON BLUE

Klefbom ferguson

The tipping point: the point at which a series of small changes or incidents becomes significant enough to cause a larger, more important change. Ladies, we’re there.

In the first season of Oil Change, an episode that discusses the 2010 entry draft involves a heated conversation between Stu MacGregor and his scouts. They are discussing selection No. 31, and the scouts around the room are pushing for Tyler Pitlick, while MacGregor is making the argument that this team needs defensive prospects.

As it turned out, the club accomplished both things during that second round, drafting Pitlick No. 31 and acquiring a pick that they used on Martin Marincin. On that day, their ‘bubbling under’ list of defensive prospects looked like this:

  1. Jeff Petry
  2. Theo Peckham
  3. Alex Plante
  4. Johan Motin
  5. Taylor Chorney
  6. Troy Hesketh
  7. Kyle Bigos

The proof is here

In 2010, the club added Marincin, Jeremie Blain and Brandon Davidson. The following seasons? Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, Dillon Simpson, Martin Gernat, Erik Gustafsson, Joey Laleggia, Darnell Nurse and Ben Betker. MacGregor recognized the need (that’s a horrible prospect list) and the club went about the business of improving defensive depth.

These are not NHL-ready kids, I’d argue Edmonton would be wise to plan on only Marincin to start the coming season with the big team (if Klefbom and Nurse can change their minds, fine). However, let’s see where these young men are:

  1. Marincin—over half a season in the NHL, he may not go back to AHL.
  2. Klefbom—made NHL debut, he’s very close, perhaps half a season in OKC.
  3. Nurse—in no man’s land because of the CHL rule, he’s got a chance.
  4. Davidson—Inconsistent season, but building his resume.
  5. Musil—Solid AHL debut, improved prospect outlook after OKC season.
  6. Gernat—plenty of work to do, but a Marincin comparable in skill terms.
  7. Simpson—graduated college, has a nice resume.
  8. Laleggia—one more offensive season in college.
  9. Betker—impressive junior season has him tracking well.

That’s a much better list than the day MacGregor and his scouts argued Pitlick v. Marincin. 

davidson ferguson

THE HOCKEY NEWS

In an article published today in the Hockey News, Matt Larkin suggests the Oilers should trade down from No. 3 overall. 

  • Edmonton sends Toronto the No. 3 pick, which the Leafs covet, for the
    No. 8 pick and Jake Gardiner. The Oilers pick Fleury. Suddenly, a
    horrible defensive team can build around Nurse, Fleury, Justin Schultz
    (reunited with best buddy Gardiner), Oscar Klefbom, and Martin Marincin,
    with veteran support from Andrew Ference, Jeff Petry and maybe Nikita Nikitin.

I think Larkin’s thought process is sound for the trade (don’t know if Toronto does it, mind), save for the selection of Haydn Fleury with the No. 8 overall pick.

WHY?

The needs have changed, and NOW the Oilers need help at center. Craig MacTavish addressed up the middle last season in terms of the draft by plucking Darnell Nurse, Greg Chase Bogdan Yakimov and others, but there’s much work to do. The need at center today is far greater than the need at defense.

  1. Greg Chase—brilliant junior season.
  2. Bogdan Yakimov—impressive Russian results on 10 minutes a night.
  3. Mark Arcobello—knocking very hard on that NHL door.
  4. Jujhar Khaira—Turned heads in an AHL cup of coffee.
  5. Travis Ewanyk—rugged center coming off rookie pro season.

The Oilers need to shore up the center position this summer. 

ewanyk ferguson

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Trading down doesn’t make sense when there’s a perfect fit available. Edmonton will get to choose from two of Aaron Ekblad, Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart and Leon Draisaitl at No. 3 overall. Trading down and taking Haydn Fleury—while also adding Jake Gardiner—adds tremendously to the blue.

However, the new ‘our blueline sucks!” is “good lord we have no centermen” this year. Stu MacGregor knows it, his scouts know it and Craig MacTavish knows it.

It’s going to be Ekblad (you can’t pass on him if available) or a center.

(Klefbom/Musil, Davidson and Ewanyk photos via Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved).

  • bazmagoo

    Hoping MacT is able to get Nikitin signed to a deal, that’d be a decent pickup if we can pull it off. 3rd pairing type guy, maybe 2nd pairing at best, but considering our best left sided defenceman right now is Marincin I’d say we can’t go wrong with adding some experience on that side. Letting Klefbom & Nurse mature without having to rush them into the NHL would be a step in the right direction.

    • A-Mc

      I follow Hope_Smoke on twitter, and the feed is a constant Leafs chatter about what they think is going on. They literally have Sports banter ALL DAY EVERY DAY regarding leafs rumors. And the banter isn’t from no names; its from tsn/sportsnet/cbc people you know. If your Dregor, you spend 60% of your time BullSh!ting about the Leafs, and the other 40% of your time covering every other team.

      There are trade rumors abound for any one of: Kadri, Bolland, Gardiner, or Phaneuf; Phaneuf/Kadri rumors being the most frequent.

      Long story short: there is lots of fluff coming out of Leafs Media

    • Lowetide

      Having said that, he closely fits MacT’s description of what they need (a puck mover to help Schultz) and Toronto is apparently very interested in moving up.

      • True, IMO schulz and Gardiner are just too similar players. Puck moving ability is great, but there needs to be some diversity in d pairings. If those two were together I feel they would get lit up alot.

      • bazmagoo

        I’d be totally down for the proposed Leafs deal if it was on the table, however I wouldn’t draft Haydn Fleury I’d use the pick on a centerman if possible. We’d got a glut of defense prospects, center is a pretty glaring weakness right now in terms of our prospect pool.

        • pkam

          Which centre will be available at #8? Does it justify to trade Bennett or Draisaitl for Gardiner and that centre at #8? I don’t see adding Gardiner to our blueline outweigh getting a more guaranteed top 2 centre.

      • A-Mc

        They already have Petry and JSchultz for puck movement.

        If MacT is looking for more, i wonder if that means they’ve flipped on either Petry/Schultz in terms of what they expect from him.